Objectives To assess the prevalence HBV infection among antenatal mothers and to determine its association with risk factors especially those related to behaviours which increase their exposure to blood and body sera.
Methodology A total of 1105 antenatal mothers who attended government clinics in Ipoh were screened for HBV infection between July and October 2008. They also completed self-administered questionnaires on their socio-demographic, reproductive, family and medical history, and behaviours/exposures such as dental and surgical procedures, blood transfusion, induced abortion, early sexual exposure, multiple sexual partners, anal sex, acupuncture, ear and body piercing, body tattoo and sharing needles for drug use.
Results Sixteen of 1105 (1.4%, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.0%) mothers test positive for HBV infection. The most common behaviours/exposures were ear piercing (77.5%), dental procedures (51.2%), surgical procedures (21.4%), and other body piercing (12.4%). Very few reported blood transfusion (3.4%), body tattoo (3.1%), induced abortion (2.9%), multiple sexual partners (1.6%), anal sex (0.5%), drug addiction (0.4%) or needle sharing (0%). The prevalence of HBV infection were significantly higher among confirmed HBV carriers, and those with positive family history of HBV infection, and jaundice. There were no significant differences in HBV infection by ethnicity, history of surgical and dental procedures, history of blood transfusion, or any of the risk behaviours explored.
Conclusion Prevalence of HBV infection was low at 1.4%. Risk behaviours were low due to under reporting or antenatal mothers are lower risk compared to the general population. We did not find any significant association between HBV infections and the explored risk behaviours.
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